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Shipping containers house giant air purifiers in Switzerland

A new startup is building massive devices to clean the air and sell carbon to companies for commercial use

Screenshot via Climeworks

Turns out that building giant air purifiers isn’t as crazy an idea as it may seem. In fact, a promising CO2 capture device from Climeworks has just made its debut atop a trash incineration plant in Switzerland. Contained within three shipping containers stacked on the facility’s roof, the carbon capture system uses fans to pull in polluted air. Filters soak up the carbon over two to three hours until it reaches capacity. Then the captured CO2 is heated into a pure form of carbon that’s extracted and sold for commercial uses in agriculture or soda-making. It’s the first business of its kind.

“One CO2 collector has the same footprint as a tree,” Climeworks co-founder Jan Wurzbacher told Fast Company. “It takes 50 tons of CO2 out of the air every year. A corresponding tree would take 50 kilograms of the air every year. It’s a factor of a thousand. So in order to achieve the same, you would need 1,000 times less area than you would require for plants growing.”

But all our climate troubles aren’t solved just yet. The Swiss plant is capable of capturing 900 tons of carbon dioxide a year—roughly equivalent to the emissions of 200 cars. Some 750,000 of these massive air purifiers would be needed in order to capture just 1 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. The company is working on ways to amplify and improve their technology, aiming to reach a much grander scale in the next two or three decades.

Via: Fast Company